LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hungry? It's a great week to try a new restaurant.

What You Need To Know

  • 502 Black Eats Week runs Oct. 1-7 in Louisville

  • Black-owned restaurants offer up deals during week-long promotion

  • Black Eats Week started in 2020 to help restaurants during pandemic shutdowns

Louisville is celebrating Black-owned restaurants during “502 Black Eats Week.” Restaurants across the city are offering discounts on menu items and hopefully ushering in a new clientele.

Spectrum News 1 visited three participating restaurants in recent days to talk about the significance of the event.

Let’s start on the city’s south side, where Chan Nelson is manning a 250 degree smoker on an 85 degree day. Nelson has been offering up barbecue at Back Deck BBQ since June 2021. His restaurant is located at Kenwood and Taylor Boulevard. Prior to that, he was gaining all sorts of slow-cooked “cred” selling barbecue out of a bus.

Opening a restaurant is never easy. Doing it during a pandemic was harder still.

“We make it through by faith. That’s real though. Every day has its ups and downs. We’ve been year in and year out, so we’ve had our challenges,” Nelson told Spectrum News 1.

Back Deck BBQ is taking part in 502 Black Eats Week, which will hopefully usher in brand new business for Nelson. “If you ask me, there’s room for everybody to grow, to support each other so we do our best to support everybody else,” he said.

Up on Louisville’s far northeast side, Blondies & Jim’s Bistro is hoping to grow its customer base too. Blondies opened in Norton Commons just a few months ago.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a chance to showcase different Black-owned businesses around town. You know, a lot of them go unnoticed and there’s no way to showcase it, so this brings light to that,” Dre Rozier told Spectrum News 1. Rozier’s mother Tonya Love is the mastermind behind Blondies & Jim’s Bistro, with its upscale decor and tastefully focused menu.

“People love the honey bourbon salmon. That’s real big and popular,” Rozier said.

The last stop is Joe’s Palm Room on 18th and West Jefferson, which reopened with new owners in 2020.

“Purchasing this during the pandemic has been pretty hard. I would say we are still ‘post-pandemic.’ Folks are not always coming out, so we as a small, Black business, you know we always have to give them a reason to come out,” owner Donnie Adkins said.

And this is exactly what 502 Black East Week aspires to do.

“So not only do I promote our stuff, but we are also promoting a lot of other Black businesses in the area,” Adkins said.

The creator of it all is Tiandra Robinson, who launched 502 Black Eats Week in 2020 to support restaurants during COVID shutdowns.

“I love supporting local and small businesses in general. It’s just I kind of focused in on Black-owned businesses because it was just harder for us to get access to funding,” Robinson recalls. “It’s all about making sure people know these Black-owned businesses exist.”